A tiny robot, inspired by the paper-folding art of origami, may someday take on surgical tasks as delicate as pushing through a human eye to reach the hair-sized veins inside.

Two engineers recently demonstrated how a device weighing as much as a penny and no larger than a tennis ball can perform such delicate procedures with far more precision than a human. They described their work in the August issue of Nature Machine Intelligence.

The device was able to outperform a human in a test that involved tracing a square smaller than the tip of a ballpoint pen. The so-named miniature remote center of motion manipulator or mini-RCM, was 68% more accurate than a tool controlled by hand.

In a second test, the device successfully punctured a mock vein twice the size of a human hair, simulating a procedure that involves puncturing an eye to reach the blood vessels at the rear in order to inject a medication. Such surgeries have been done on an experimental basis with other robots, but are considered too risky to be performed exclusively by hand.

An article on Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering describes how Robert Wood, an engineering professor at Harvard, and Hiroyuki Suzuki, a robotics engineer at Sony Corporation, built the robot.

For years, miniaturized tools and cameras have enabled doctors to perform minimally invasive surgeries. Now, large robots are assisting surgeons by handling multiple tools with great precision. The downside is the size of these robots and their tools, and the cost. There’s also research suggesting that for many types of procedures these robots – costing $2 million and more – get no better results than traditional laparoscopic surgery.

Te mini-RCM, although still just a prototype, holds promise for reducing the size and cost of medical robots and has potential utility as a precise tool for teleoperated microsurgery.

“The Wood lab’s unique technical capabilities for making micro-robots have led to a number of impressive inventions over the last few years,” says Suzuki . ”I was convinced that it also had the potential to make a breakthrough in the field of medical manipulators as well.”

“This project has been a great success.”

Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash


Python Is the Most Popular Programming Language

The answer is: C, Java, Python, C++, C#, JavaScript, PHP and R. What’s the question?

This should be simple for every software developer worthy of being called a professional: What are the most popular programming languages in the world?

TechRepublic selected these eight from among the monthly popularity lists compiled by TIOBE. The company, which specializes in assessing and tracking software quality, named Python programming language of the year, based on its year over year change. It’s the fourth time Python earned the honor, a record.

Like some other organizations that produce software popularity lists, TIOBE ranks software based on the number of searches conducted monthly. The January PYPL list on GitHub has Python in the top position again. Also unchanged from the year before are Java (2), JavaScript (3), C#(4) and, moving up is C/C++ (5).

TIOBE Programming Language 2021 - blog.jpg

Over the summer, when the IEEE’s Spectrum it issued its top languages list, Python too, was at the top. Java, C, C++ and JavaScript followed in descending order. What’s especially useful about the IEEE’s list is its interactivity. Besides seeing how the organization ranked languages, a user can choose to rank them by the language most requested in CareerBuilder job ads or by what languages are trending or in several other ways.

Though the ranking of a specific language may go up and down, the eight TechRepublic selected, and a handful of others like PHP and Visual Basic have dominated the top of popularity lists for years.

“According to TIOBE’s list,” says TechRepublic, “C, Java, C++ and Python have been the most popular languages since 2002. C#, Visual Basic and JavaScript have also battled for top spots.”

As Benjamin Goldberg, an associate computer science professor at New York University told TechRepublic, “There are a number of different ways to measure popularity, such as the languages that are used for programs that run in the largest number of devices, the languages in which the most programs are written, the languages in which the most lines of code are written.”

What’s the most enduringly popular languages?

“In terms of the language that is used for programs on the largest number of devices, certainly it’s JavaScript,” Goldberg says. Counting its use on webpages, “By a substantial margin, JavaScript is used to write the largest number of programs.”

Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash